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Stovebolt Sagas

2 Guys in search of a Truck

 

Episode 5 -- Not the Holy Grail...


         MT. Sterling, KY -- (Music from "Last of the Mohicans" plays in background as Natty Bumpo/JC and Uncas/Johnhancock are driving through the wilderness of Eastern Kan-Tuck-Ee) Generations ago, our fathers used horses, birchbark canoes and prairie schooners to cross the land and conquer the miles. The authoritative bark of the flintlock rifle as it spoke in the still of the forest twilight, and the swish of the thrown tomahawk as it sliced the humid mist hanging lowly among the dense firs, only threw back the oppressive wilderness momentarily as they traversed it's sullen expanse. Never tamed, only subdued, the frontier beckoned with opportunity while yet fraught with dangers for the intrepid souls who first pushed across its uncharted depths.

           Today, we've traded our canoes and prairie schooners for a red S10 pickup, but the dangers lurk as unfeeling and oppressive as ever. They've changed in shape and form, yes, but remain as deadly as ever here in the western foothills of Appalachia. We forage not for beaver pelt or deerskin, but game that equally stirs the soul as fur ever did -- the wild flatbed. The dangers? They include tired 18-wheeler drivers, trying to make Ashland before nightfall and lurking camouflaged tractors seeking to distract us from our quest.

           Having concluded our business in Ashland, we hurried back across the Eastern Frontier of Kan Tuck Ee to make a very important appointment. Earlier in the month, a Swap Meet submission crossed the wires concerning, of all things, a '49 ton and a half flatbed truck, located (in all places), in MT Sterling, KY (previously known only in myth) -- Basically 10 hops, five skips and three jumps from "Homeplate."

           There, we made rendezvous with a warrior/poet/guide from the Wee Driveum Fords tribe. His name was (and still is, I assume) "Sam." Anyway, After meeting us with Sam (at a place where the natives sit around campfires with metal lathes and drill presses and take raw steel-- obviously traded from French traders for beaver pelts -- and make highly machined objects out if it), we followed him quite a ways back into the wilderness to a farm. It was a little degrading -- us in a Chevy having to follow a Ford, but you have to do what you have to do sometimes. Then, suddenly, we saw it. We crested a hill, turned a corner, and across the bottom and up on a ridge, there it was sitting like Jerusalem on a hill.

           After such close proximity to a Ford for all these miles of twisting, dipping and climbing, the view of the truck on the hill must have caused an emotion in us similar to that experienced by the Crusaders upon their first glimpse of the Holy City after years of fighting their way through Turkey, Greece, Syria and Lebanon. Our whoops of joy and exclamations of enthusiasm little masked our excitement.

           "Oh. There it is, I guess," Johnhancock said, pointing. I looked up from my crossword. "Um, yeah. Must be."

           The truck sat behind a shop, weeds growing up around it, like a shunned stepbrother who has been kicked out of the house. It sat tilting to one side (don't they all?), both headlights bashed out and the windshield looking like a Mafia hit had taken place here. Amazingly, the sheet metal was sound (sure, the inevitable dent here and there) but no rust. I mean NO RUST. Should I say that again? NO RUST. A little weathering of the paint and a patch of light surface rust here and there, but NO RUST. Even the battery box, floor board and cab corners were sound.

           I guess what I'm trying to say is that this truck has NO RUST. We looked it over and then decided we should come back on a warmer day, as the snow was blowing and the windchill was approximately that of Nome, Alaska, in January.

           Johnhancock, his teeth chattering the Morse Code for "Great Truck, let's go," disappeared back into the Little Red Rocket and turned the heat to "Space Shuttle Blast Off."

           A few weeks later, we returned on a warmer day to see if we could get the thing started. We tried charging the battery (It had sat for over a year -- no dice). Then we hooked it via chain to Dodgezilla. The ground still had a little snow on it, so we didn't get any traction. Then, the owner brought out his tractor. That got it rolling, by golly. Up and down the driveway we went, double clutching all the way. Not so much as even a sputter. But, in attaining speeds of approximately 15 mph (Look out, Mark Martin) and with a hay spike (off the back of the tractor) staring me in the face, I found out something else about this old truck -- it had NO BRAKES!

           Nevertheless, the truck appears to only need a little body work, a tune-up, a BRAKE JOB and some paint to be very respectable. Is this the one? Is the Quest over? Can we return to Camelot? Did we ever get it running?

           We'll see ...

           'Til next time -- Aloha, JC




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